Forest Economic Advisors has recalculated US lumber import data from Europe after discovering an industry-wide miscalculation. The difference is large—likely over 1 billion board feet (BBF) in 2022—and explains a discrepancy between end-use market activity and US consumption that had left us scratching our heads for some time now.
CME Group Inc. plans to replace its lumber futures contract with a smaller version that will be deliverable to Chicago rather than Western Canada, following two volatile years that lifted prices to record highs. This new truckload-size contract will be a quarter the volume of the current lumber futures, and is designed to attract more buyers and sellers to the market. The new physically delivered futures and accompanying options contracts are set to launch Aug. 8, pending regulatory approval from Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
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We have received a slew of media inquires in the past week from reporters who were pushing the following storylines:
1. Donald Trump’s tariffs on lumber have caused prices to surge from about $300 per thousand board feet (MBF) to more than $600 per MBF.
2. Surging building materials prices pose a potentially mortal threat to the US housing recovery.
Our short responses to these storylines are as follows 1) that ain’t necessarily so, and 2) that’s hogwash.
There are several different ways to calculate consumption. Some calculate consumption as shipments plus imports minus exports. Others look at production plus imports minus exports. However, neither of these methods takes inventory swings into account.